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10/29/2005 Archived Entry: ""

Claire Wolfe had a fascinating commentary on her blog yesterday. She wrote:

"I'VE GOT NOTHING TO SAY," says James Leroy Wilson about Valerie Plame, Harriet Miers, or 2,000 dead Americans in Iraq.
... there needs to be passion, and I don't have any for politics right now. Passion is fueled by hope, and even anti-government and "anti-political" writers retain some hope for change in the political order. It is that hope that sustains us through all the outrageous policies and stupidity we deal with. We must believe that our words are at least planting seeds for a better tomorrow.

I don't know where Wilson's going with his writing or his life, but I've enjoyed his more reflective and inward-turning writings lately.

His response to politics is similar to my response when I read something like that dangerously fiery rant Liz Michael launched earlier this month.
I look at Michael's rant and think, "Damn, I used to write with that much eloquent outrage" (although I hope I never wrote with such potentially deadly folly). I don't have that in me any more.

But (like Wilson, I strongly suspect) I've far from given up. I've just moved on to another phase of life. I know that virtually everything the federal government does is going to be horrible. Why remain in a perpetual state of lather? Why be in reactive mode through the course of an entire existence? There is life to be lived -- live aside from politics, even if that life must often be lived in spite of the worst efforts of politicians and bureaucrats.

And there is freedom to be won. Not just talked about, but snatched directly frm the jaws of the vicious total-control beast.

Ranting makes a writer more entertaining. And yes, I worry that people will want to read Liz Michael more than me. (But then, they already want to read/see/hear Ann Coulter more than me; and I'd jump off a tall cliff before I'd envy that Hitlerian Barbie doll.)

But outrage must have a purpose. And that purpose is eventually to do something productive with your righteous anger. And that's what I'm doing these days. And that's what I hope (and believe) thousands of other freedom lovers are doing. If we've stopped waving our arms and shouting, it's not because we've given up. It's because we've moved on to the next stage of opposition to tyranny. And that next stage is, of necessity, much, much quieter.

Many libertarians seem to be independently reaching the same conclusion. As "the crazy years" spin out and leave the wreckage of American liberties and traditions in their wake, more of us seem to be focusing on how to achieve personal freedom through financial independence, self-sufficiency, networking... One reason (at least for me): I doubt that much can be accomplished in terms of regaining freedom until the War in Iraq ends, the hysteria over terrorism ceases, or Bush leaves office, whichever of these comes first. It is as though a fever is gripping the States. A friend up here in Canada made an apt observation. After commenting on how he could no longer even recognized the U.S., he said, "it is like one of those science fiction/horror movies in which aliens slowly occupy the bodies of townspeople. The protagonist wakes up one morning to find that neighbors still look the same but he knows in his gut that a totally different life force is occupying the shells of their bodies."

Unlike Claire and Liz, I don't write from outrage. Or, more accurately, my outrage has always found a calmer expression and my goal in writing has usually been to construct a step-by-step argument leading to the conclusion I think is true or just. Perhaps that's why I am not feeling as burned out on politics as many of the people around me; I was never as 'hot' to begin with -- just plodding and determined. But whether I keep plodding along, I am not hopeful about the short term prospects, by which I mean the next few years. For one thing, I think there is going to be an extremely bad economic recession in early to mid 2006; I suspect Doug Casey is correct in believing that what I just called a recession will, in fact, be a depression to surpass the late '20s and '30s. Freedom never fares well during economic panics and dislocations.

So why keep writing at all? (BTW, I know neither Claire nor Wilson were advocating silence so my question is addressed more generally.) There are several reasons. Because the best way to preserve freedom right now is for advocates to stand firmly in place until the storm blows over and the clean up can begin; for me, that means constructing arguments as I always have. Because I may be wrong and voices for sanity may be having more of an impact than I realize; how do you measure such impact? Because articles protesting the emergence of the American police state may be slowing down that process even if they are not preventing it. Because it makes me feel better.

Yet I must admit that I am turning far more of my attention to the pursuit of personal freedom in the private rather than the public realm. That's where I find hope. That's where I can make a difference right here and now.

Oh...and I do understand that Claire was addressing a different form of resistance in her conclusion, " If we've stopped waving our arms and shouting, it's not because we've given up. It's because we've moved on to the next stage of opposition to tyranny. And that next stage is, of necessity, much, much quieter. "

I invite you to check out a new libertarian discussion forum that I've established.

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